Key Points

Philanthropic employees have been cautious in implying that they are pursuing a career in philanthropy. Karl Stauber (2010) presented an argument in support of such caution: that philanthropy failed to meet all seven standards posited by Burton J. Bledstein, that when met, define a profession.

This article presents a literature review and findings from a survey of 500 members of the Council on Foundations that offer evidence for the counterargument that philanthropic work requires specialized education and training to master a set of core competencies.

While this article does not argue for or against the question, determining whether philanthropy as a field can rightly be considered a profession has important consequences. Codes of conduct and professional training standards can lead to greater diversity among practitioners. Legitimization lends support for additional work to govern the profession. And the status and prestige stemming from professionalization establish the credibility necessary for grantmakers to influence decision-makers and the public, and to be entrusted with the sound management of charitable funds.

Open Access